Apart from its usual set of flagship smartphones, Samsung focused on the budget and mid-range segments with the Galaxy-M and Galaxy-A series last year. Moving into 2020, the company is now focusing on the affordable flagship category, specifically the sub-Rs 40,000 price segment. OnePlus has been dominating and has been successful in this segment for a while now, so much so, that Xiaomi and Realme have been trying to compete with the ‘Flagship Killer.’
The new Galaxy S10 Lite, according to Samsung offers the premium Galaxy S experience at a more affordable price. Now even though it has S10 in its name, it doesn’t look anything like the original Galaxy S10 series. First of all, there is a flat AMOLED display and the punch hole has moved to the center, just like the Galaxy Note 10. The triple cameras at the back are placed in a raised rectangular module, very similar to the one we saw on the Galaxy M30s.
The handset also makes use of what Samsung calls ‘Glastic’ which is a combination of glass and plastic. The use of this plastic fused glass also helps in shedding some weight. This was one of the first things that I noticed when I got my hands on the device. It feels light considering its size and dimensions and the fact that it loaded with a large 4,500mAh battery. According to the company, this material offers a premium finish similar to glass, but at the same time, it doesn’t shatter like glass. Oh, and it also attracts a lot of fingerprints. In-person, I did not have any complaints.
Overall the handset looks and feels worthy of the price, almost as good as the OnePlus 7T. But there are some important things that I need to point out. First of all, there is no headphone jack on this phone, but thankfully there is a pair of USB Type-C earphones in the box. Also, there is only one speaker sitting at the bottom of the phone.
Samsung has been a pioneer when it comes to its mobile displays, and the Galaxy S10 Lite is no exception. The 6.7-inch Super AMOLED panel covers almost the entire front with slim bezels all around. It offers a Full HD+ resolution of 2400x1080 but somehow Samsung’s OneUI makes the icons look bigger than expected. The panel is definitely bright, offers punchy colours and of course you can fine-tune the colours and white balance according to your liking. There is a fingerprint scanner under the display as well, although it isn’t the same as the one we saw on the Galaxy S10 series. More on this later.
Now the display does feel at par with the OnePlus 7T’s Fluid AMOLED panel. It is comparable in terms of colour reproduction as well as brightness, but OnePlus offers a 90Hz refresh rate, which makes a huge difference. Now I am not saying the panel on the S10 Lite is bad, in fact, I felt it was a tad bit brighter. But once you move to that fast 90Hz refresh rate, everything else just seems less fluid.
On the inside, the handset is loaded with some solid specs. There is a Snapdragon 855 processor paired with 8GB of RAM. There is a 6GB variant as well, but the company has decided not to introduce the variant at launch. You get 128GB of internal storage and if that feels less, there is the option of adding a microSD card of up to 512GB in capacity. Samsung usually relies on its own range of processors, especially for devices launching in India, but the S10 Lite is an exception and could attract customers.
Performance is pretty solid. The new One UI 2.0 brings some small refinements along with Android 10 goodness. Samsung’s UI skin somehow feels a bit too much, especially if you are coming from a stock Android smartphone. Surprisingly, it is smooth and in my two weeks of usage, I hardly faced any glitches or slowdowns. I just wish that Samsung brings support for third-party icon packs apart from the themes and wallpapers on offer.
As a daily driver, the phone is very responsive and smooth. Multitasking is handled flawlessly and apps open quickly. Overall I found the phone to be quite snappy and probably one of the best in its class. It just a notch behind the OnePlus 7T purely because of that faster 90Hz refresh rate and a cleaner Android experience with OxygenOS.
Gaming performance is really good considering the Snapdragon 800 series processor. PUBG Mobile can go the maximum Smooth + Extreme settings and after 20-25 minutes the phone does get a little warm, but nothing unbearable.
The in-display fingerprint sensor works fairly fast, even though it is not the same as the Ultrasonic one that is used on the original S10 series. There is a single bottom-firing speaker, which is decent but not as good as some of the competitors. Speaking of audio, Samsung does offer Dolby Atmos enhancement using wired or Bluetooth headphones. Notably, there is no headphone jack, but Samsung is bundling a pair of decent USB Type-C earphones.
Moving to the camera department, Samsung claims that the S10 Lite offers a ‘Pro Grade Experience.’ There is a triple rear camera setup with a 48-megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor with an f/2.0 lens along with OIS (optical image stabilisation). This is paired with a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle camera with an f/2.2 aperture and 123-degree field of view along with a 5-megapixel macro camera with an f/2.4 lens. At the front, there is a 32-megapixel camera with an f/2.2 lens. The company has stressed on the fact that the main camera comes with an OIS system paired with the company’s Super Steady software, which was originally announced with the S10 series. The module tries to mimic a gimbal to stabilise your videos, like most flagship phone cameras, combined with Super Steady, which is basically the company’s electronic image stabilisation solution.
Apart from the Macro mode, the camera offers a variety of other features including Pro, Super slow-mo, Hyperlapse, Night and Food modes. Like most manual modes, the Pro mode lets you take control of the exposure, white balance, and ISO. It would have been great if Samsung added the ability to manually control the autofocus and shutter speed. There is also the Live focus feature that lets you add blur to your pictures or videos in real-time.
Now I compared some shots I had taken with the S10 Lite with the OnePlus 7T. In bright conditions, the camera on the S10 Lite manages to produce good punchy colors with a wide dynamic range. Sharpness is mostly good but as seen on Samsung phones, there were certain shots that looked soft for no good reason. The HDR mode also does a pretty good job and doesn’t take a lot of time to render images, even in low light conditions.
I really liked the ultra-wide camera as apart from offering a wider field of view compared to the OnePlus 7T, it manages to capture almost similar colours and dynamic range as the primary sensor, although not as sharp. Low-light performance is pretty good thanks to the OIS, and in certain scenarios, it manages to produce better pictures than the OnePlus 7T. The dedicated night mode manages to bring out some details in the shadow areas, but highlights can go for a toss. The macro mode definitely is far better than most of the handsets that I have tested so far but is neck to neck when it comes to the OnePlus 7T.
As for video recording, the S10 Lite lets you shoot 4K video at 30fps from the regular as well as the ultra-wide camera, which is nice to see. As mentioned above, you can turn the Super Steady mode on, but that only works on the main camera and only for 1080p videos. Videos do look pretty stable when you mix and match the settings, but nothing out of the ordinary.
This is one area that the Galaxy S10 Lite really impresses. The 4500mAh battery manages to keep the phone running all-day long. As a daily driver, I used the phone to check emails, listen to some music on Spotify, take a few pictures and play PUBG Mobile for about 2 hours. I still had about 40 percent left at the end of my day. Samsung bundles a 25W charger that fully juices up the device in about an hour. The company says that it does also support 45W charging, but you would need a separate charger for that.
On its own, I would definitely recommend the Galaxy S10 Lite as it addresses most of the customer pain points. Having said that, the competition in the smartphone market is stiff and one cannot ignore the likes of the OnePlus 7T, Realme X2 Pro or the Redmi K20 Pro for that matter. There are definitely some areas where the S10 Lite is better than its competition, like the long battery life, a marginally bigger display, and good camera performance. But it isn’t the best phone in its segment. It is, however, definitely one of the highly recommended options if you are looking for a smartphone under Rs 40,000.